Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Wednesday night slammed President Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud in New Hampshire, calling his administration’s repeated lies detrimental to the country.
“There were no buses. There was no fraud. He lost New Hampshire. He lost the popular vote, and it’s frankly pathetic and beyond pathetic that they keep bringing this up,” Healey said, referring to Trump’s recent claim that thousands of Massachusetts residents had been bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally, causing his defeat in that state.
Healey said the president, in his first three weeks in office, has set the country on the wrong track.
“Do I think things are off on the wrong foot? Absolutely,” she said in an hour-long interview with reporter Joshua Miller before a small crowd at the AT&T store on Boylston Street, part of the Boston Globe’s Political Happy Hour series.
Healey’s office has taken an aggressive stance against the new president, challenging his immigration ban in court and speaking out in support of immigrant communities.
Healey, a Democrat, appeared as flabbergasted by recent news reports as many other citizens.
“Did you read today’s news?” she said. “I mean, seriously.”
She cited reports that members of Trump’s political campaign had contact with top Russian intelligence officials before the election and that the president’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, talked with Russia after the election but before inauguration. Flynn resigned Monday.
“Russia? Russia having engaged with political operatives,” Healey continued. “A person who’s now president? And subsequent to that having engaged with somebody who was appointed by the president to be in charge of national security?”
“It’s not like he put him in charge of, like, agriculture,” Healey said. “He put him in charge of national security.”
Healey is considered a rising star among Massachusetts liberals but has insisted she will not run for governor in 2018 against incumbent Republican Charlie Baker.
She repeated that Wednesday.
“I’m running for attorney general,” she said.
So far, Healey’s approach to Trump has differed from that of Baker, who has also spoken out against several of the president’s more controversial policies.
Baker has written to Congress and to the administration on his concerns about health care policy and the immigration ban. Healey has made public appearances at rallies and at the airport to help immigrants.
When reporters asked the governor earlier this week about the claims of voter fraud in New Hampshire, Baker demurred, saying he is not an expert in New Hampshire elections.
Asked about Baker’s response Wednesday, the attorney general chose her words carefully.
“I think we should see all elected officials vehemently denouncing this,” Healey said. “The people of Massachusetts and the people of the Granite State are not felons.”
Still, Healey commended Baker for the letter he wrote to Washington officials denouncing Trump’s immigration order, and went on to say, “Unfortunately, there [are] going to be continued opportunities day to day to speak up.”
On other issues, Healey said the state should devote more money to programs in schools to educate students about the dangers of opioid addiction.
About the Legislature’s recent vote to give salary increases to its own members as well as the state’s constitutional officers, judges, and some court personnel, Healey declined to comment on the move but noted that she had declined the pay raise for herself. She said she opposed the same raise in 2014 and described her decision this year as a matter of consistency.
The attorney general emphasized her support for immigrant communities in the state but said she believes it should be up to cities and towns to decide individually whether they want to become so-called sanctuary cities, meaning that local police do not assist federal immigration officials.
She said that while the country might be headed in the wrong direction, Massachusetts is largely on the right track.
Healey said she is heartened by the unprecedented amount of people attending town hall meetings she has held across the state since the election, many for the first time.
She urged people, especially women, considering a run for office to jump in.
“Now is not the time to go sit in rooms with solely like-minded people,” Healey said.
“Sometimes it takes a catalytic event for things to happen.”